This is a wine from my preferred range: I don’t feel comfortable buying cheaper red wines (HUF 3300) but I can’t afford spending more on wine every time I feel like having a good red one (which is more often than I like to admit). So this better be good.
Heimann – Birtokbor, 2007
A blend of 50% Cabernet Franc, 35% Merlot and 15% Kékfrankos this wine has seen 18 months in used oak barrels.
Clean and vibrant medium ruby hue. The nose is a touch reduced showing sweet fruity with traces of wood. This wine smells of gage and plum with strawberry added to the fruit profile.
Elegantly styled palate with smooth acidity and finely composed structure with well handled, yet well defined tannins. Faded notes of clove and other spices also imply smart use of oak. Light but well balanced palate although some might find the 14.5% alcohol sweetness over the top. Open and accessible wine with a good length, but rather restrained in terms of aromas. Lovely texture.
Red wines under HUF2000 is a dangerous territory, but also an inevitable one. Here’s two of it, one is a finding from Budapest’s misterious stock (50% off from retail price) of Orbán square’s grocery store and the other one, well, I have no idea. I used to drink Takler wines a lot. I don’t miss those times, and I knew this before I opened the bottle. With Tóth István, you never know.
Takler – Merlot, 2008
Lively medium-deep cherry hue, just lovely. Fresh fruity bouquet with mulberry and black-currant. On the palate fresh but too thin and tannic with hints of sloe and black-currant with an appalling bitter undertone.
Tóth István – Merlot, 2004
Blurred ruby with a brownish rim. Lovely nose with, again, black-currant and mulberry, intense and jammy, later with a cigarette smoke accent. Feels much younger than it is with it’s harsh acidity. It’s loosiness won’t get any better after 80 minutes in spite of some tasty strawberry jam coming through.
Both wines had attractive bouquet but both missed the target on the palate, the Takler by miles and the Tóth István only just. I paid HUF 900 for it so i didn’t mind.
Now that the Hungarian Constitution incorporates (our non-existent) Christianity I sort of feel being under pressure to write more about exuberantly religious winemakers. I kind of hope this could be used in my favour (as an extenuating circumstance) when the full dictatorship finally takes place in the middle of the Carpatians and censorship will eventually (and inevitably) become part of our everyday life.
St. Andrea – Áldás, 2008
This is a Bikavér and as such, predictably unpredictable blend, but Kékfrankos, Merlot, Cabernet Franc, Syrah, Pinot Noir and Menoir make a unique yet approachable wine here. Fresh, medium dark ruby with purplish shades. The nose is dried tobacco leaves with some alcohol coming through. The ample palate is smoothly styled with a chewy mix of fruits presented in a soft velvety texture and with a long, delicately sour tannic finish. Medium bodied wine with well rounded, very subtle and perfectly integrated acidity.
Not too exciting but well made wine, would go well with a bistro meal.
Price: HUF 3000
When I ran into a massive sell-off of Tóth István Merlot wines in a grocery store (down by 60%) in Orbán tér I thought I’ve found the best buy of the month. Although I never understood the cult following of Tóth István, his wines never really disappointed me. The winemaker whose most recent wines on the market were made in 2004 is apparently liquidating his stock, but until heextends it to the much admired Bikavér Válogatás, let’s have a look at the naked Merlot from 2004. I bought a bottle and I found it a bit strange (with a mix symptom of corked wine and ethyl acetate). So I bough a second bottle and it felt the same, leding me to the conclusion that this must be the Eger terroir then.
Tóth István – Merlot, 2004
Blurred brownish turning towards purple. On the nose raspberry mingled with pomegranate, but a bit dull and stuffy. Well-balanced light palate with lively acidity finely embedded into the deep soft and slightly sour tannins.
So how was it then?
Around this time of 2008 expectations about this vintage ranged from good to outstanding in every region although some remarked that a rainy October could leave this vintage short of excellence of, say, 2006. I’m not saying that the same irrational exuberance took over the Hungarian winemaking as it did in Bordeaux but Hungarian winemakers undoubtadly tend to be more optimistic in their expectations lately. Let’s find out how it all turned out on the east bank of the Danube.
Levendula Pincészet – Cabernet Sauvignon, 2008
The winemaking philosophy of Levendula is very different from the well-known Cabernet producers from the south and that’s clearly reflected in this wine. Also Levendula Cabernet Sauvignon is not a typical Cabernet as it lacks many of the “standard” features one would expect from varietal. After the “classic” Cabenet 2007 the 2008 has less chocolate but has more fruits starting from a vibrant, sharp and clean black-currant bouquet with a chocolate-woody-black peppered undertone to a stream of ripe cherry on the palate. Further on boiled apple and pear supported by powdery tannin and harsh acidity. A little bit rustic compared to the other wines to come but it’s the most fruity of the three.
Pannonhalmi Apátsági – Tricollis, 2008
This is a blend of Merlot (40%), Pinot Noir (40%) and Cabernet Franc (20%) but it could easily be sold as a Pinot Noir. It’s rather pale cherry-pinkish and has a very restrained nose of clove flavoured boiled apple with a vanilla accent. On the palate silky texture with very subtle acidity. A light entry turns into a gently fading length with beige caramel from the mid-palate. 13.5% alcohol feels a bit over the top for such a thin wine.
Bock – Ermitage, 2008
This blend of Cabernet Sauvignon, Cabernet Fanc, Merlot, Syrah, Kékfrankos, Portugieser and Pinot Noir could be called Bikavér for it mixes these varietals in a way one wouldn’t suspect all these varietals were actually in it. It’s clearly Cabernet Sauvignon-based though with Merlot and Franc being also apparent. Altough having been aged for 14 months in large barrels and used small ones, with it’s dark brownish hue this looks more like an old-school Villányi Bordeaux cuvée rather than an experimental blend. Dense and highly concentrated material. Delightfully structured wine whose perfectly ripe (and a bit sweet), tasty tannins are a robust yet very fine underpinning that doesn’t require any airing to show its best. Perfectly linear flow from the entry to a rather short finish. Acidity could be fine-tuned here but tannin is the most prominent component of this wine and you can forget the rest. Altough being one dimensional and hence soon predictable, it’s worth to buy it just for the sake of tannin alone. A rare example of very smart use of oak.
All three wines are fairly priced. Tricollis and Levendula’s Cabernet are of the same league although very differrent in style, while Ermitage is different from both and more expensive but very reasonably priced at around EUR10.
A stock clearance of a well known retailer provided my with a good opportunity to acquire some bottles for party people coming to visit us from time to time, you know smokers and alike. Some of these wines were so disappointing they drove me to the conclusion I made about mediocre wine reviews in this post. Tiffány’s Portugieser 2009, Tiffán’s Imortal cuvée 2007 and Tűzkő’s Sauvignon Blanc 2008 were good match with cigarettes only really. The following two wines were the best of the lot, so far.
Chateau Kajmád – Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Kékfrankos, 2003
Considering it was made in 2003 we can call this an early bird of it’s kind with it’s 14% alcohol.
The look: A dark core surrounded by pigeon blood hue and a pale brownish rim, with some purplish reflections.
Nose: Interesting spices coming through a stuffy bouquet at first, things like turmeric-favored plum and other oddities.
Palate: Dirty. After 90 minutes it evoles structurally but I’d like more definition to it. The wine’s texture is oily and I’m suspecting a good deal of glycerin here. The tart fruityness I would even call pleasant would it not been ruined by the whole picture including quite a lot of half powdery, half sticky overflowing tannins soaked up by the glycerin. The wine has a dirty character which I associate with many – even not so old – Ch. Kajmád wines, very much the opposite of the clean Konyári or Gróf Buttler wines.
Hilltop – Prémium Merlot 2008
Look: dead ruby.
Nose: mulberry syrup, very fruity.
Palate: Ligh-bodied wine with blueberry wrapped in burnt rubber and licorice aromas. Soft texture and polished tannins. But as a whole it’s too “made” and simple.
Evaluation: forget about it.
This is just to let you know that there might be less and less bargains out there but I’ve found a rare good red wine under HUF 2000 which I now put on my watchlist. Although Szabó Zoltán’s Riesling 2007 was a bit disapointing after the breakthrough 2006, the Merlot 2007 is a very decent effort for the price and makes me wonder how the 2006 could have been.
I used this Merlot to make magrets of duck (following Larousse Gastronomique’s receipe, which is a wonderful book btw, sticking predictably to some of the clichés as long as Hungarian wines are concerned but fortunately weighting Hungarian wines properly by dedicating it no more than a few lines on its more than 1 2000 pages) and although I cleared two galsses of it in the process I cannot write a proper review just yet but I was impressed by the balance, the soft texture and the freshly intense fruityness (cherry) of such a thin wine. I don’t dare to make prediction for how long this wine may age well but it still certainly has a vibe that gives me hope I can still enjoy it in the near future again. And this may just as well be a new start for Pécs’s red wine evolution (Europe’s capital of culture, LOL).
This is my first Merlot from the ”selection” range of this family run winery. I didn’t know what to expect, the cheap Halmosi wines were disappointing as red wines under HUF 2500 usually do. Not this one.
Medium ruby with a pale brownish rim.
Warm, yet fresh and spicy nose with cinnamon and black pepper mingled with very (very) ripe wild berries. This jammy character is carried on through to the palate, I bet the Merlot grapes were extremely ripe and they yielded a very high concentration of flavors with a mix of wild berries. Linear path into the not too long finish. Very subtle acidity, it’s there but hardly supports the pressure of the substance. Sweet mature tannins flow into a sweet ripe finish. Full-bodied wine, doesn’t excel with an individualistic style but it’s a very good (and affordable) entry to the league of big wines where it doesn’t belong yet.
The thing I appreciate the most in this price segment (HUF 2500 – 4000) is balance. I don’t necessarily expect individual style from these wines but I don’t tolerate faults like too high acidity, harsh tannins or lack of integration. This Merlot is simply error-free and even expresses some of the terroir.
Score: 6 points
Price: HUF 3200
You hopefully just read the debut of Pfneiszl on this blog so I don’t need to tell once again how I feel about organic wines (my opinion didn’t change that much since last week).
This Merlot is medium ruby with purplish reflections. Fairly fruity and fresh nose with blackcurrant, sour cherry and some spices (I think cinnamon mainly). Similarly, the palate is fruity and fresh with acidity that only doesn’t cross the line if I think of almost any other red wine from Sopron in this segment. Very short finish. It’s an overall very similar wine to the Kékfrankos, a decent organic effort from a region which often disappoints but nothing to be too excited about.
Score: 4 points
Domaine Gróf Zichy is one of two premium brands of Twickel Wine Estate of Szekszárd.
The base material of the wines consists of grapes grown on the best located vineyards and the low harvested quantity per hectare is coupled with intensive grape selection and delicate grape processing.
Still according to the winery’s website, wines are matured for a long time, using the highest quality wood and barrique barrels.
The wood barrel maturing of the wines lasts at least 12 months and maturing takes place in the best quality wood and barrique barrels. Maturing in the wood barrels is followed by an equally long period of bottled maturing period.
Medium-deep purplish Merlot with a rich blackberry nose mingled with plum and high-toasted barrel notes. Appealing palate of young and fresh acidity with just a hint of bitterness which leads to a short finish. There’s substance here with blackberry and plum mainly, relatively well integrated into a medium body. Nicely textured with soft but not too ripe tannins. Good balance with just a tiny alcohol at the end. Not a complex wine but a pleasant drink. And this wine will age well for another 2-3 years, so this is a potentially 6 points wine.
Score: 5, 5+
Price: HUF 2 300 – 2 700